Monday, 27 May 2013

Kindle Romance Covers of the Week - 27th May 2013

That's right, the weekly Kindle cover roundup has found a new home! Welcome to the NEW Romance Covers of the Week blog, where it's all about romance covers, all the time.

And just as before, I've taken a leisurely lope through the love-stories released over the past week on Kindle UK in the 'Romance' category and made my personal picks.


Up until now I've employed the entirely unscientific approach of seeing something I like, squealing, "'s SO PRETTY!!", and sticking it in the blog. Yeah. Time to grow up a little. So I'll now be churning out ratings out of 5 for my Pick of the Week , and the best performers will eventually end up in my Top 20 list! Where I have time, I'll also list some of my other favourite covers from that week.

But first...


Both of these covers caught my eye this week, but for rather opposite reasons. One, because it was a glowing example of how you can bring a historical novel to life with gorgeous illustrated cover. The other, because it honesty did disturb me deeply on a several different levels. I'll let you figure out which one is which...

Okay, here are some of my favourites from this week...


Perhaps it's me being a silly sentimentalist, but there was a time when I'd have given anything to be that girl in a red dress, dancing with that dashing man to the crooning strains of Chris de Burgh's, 'The Lady in Red'. Okay, maybe that would STILL be rather swoon-worthy! Here are a few ladies in red that I loved...

Title: The Affair
Author: Gill Paul
Publisher: Harper Collins Avon
Cover Artist: n/a (let me know so I can credit!)
Genre: Historical Romance

Title: My Name is Noir
Author: Morgan Jane Mitchell
Publisher: Morgan Jane Mitchell
Cover Artist: W. Solomon Mitchell
Genre: Fantasy/Paranormal Romance

Title: Redeeming Love
Author: Francine Rivers
Publisher: Lion Fiction; 2nd Revised edition edition
Cover Artist: Unknown (let me know so I can credit!)
Genre: Historical Romance


The musical theme for these covers is brought to you by Bessie Smith and her 'Lost Your Head Blues'! Actually, these covers prove it's not such a bad thing to lose your head!

Title: All In
Author: Marta Brown
Publisher: VP Publishing House
Cover Artist: Videre Productions
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Title: Her Mother's Shadow
Author: Diane Chamberlain
Publisher: MIRA
Cover Artist: Unknown (and covers on her site are different than this one!)
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Title: Miss Goldsleigh's Secret
Author: Amylynn Bright
Publisher: Amazon/Self-published
Cover Artist: Jaycee DeLorenzo of Sweet 'n Spicy Designs
Genre: Historical/Regency Romance

Title: Sleeping in Eden
Author: Nicole Baart
Publisher: Howard Books
Cover Artist: Unknown
Genre: Contemporary Romance


This was actually a tough job this week - as you can see there were so many to choose from, and I couldn't even get around to featuring all my favourites on the blog. But here we pick of the week is:

Title: Pride's Prejudice
Author: Misty Dawn Pulsipher
Publisher: Amazon/Self-Published
Cover Artist: Cindy Canizales
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Thumbnail-ability: 4
Font & Text: 4
Genre-fit: 3
Overall Composition: 4
Overall Concept: 4


So let's talk about this cover. Is it the most finely balanced of all the covers I picked out this week? The most polished? Not really, but either by accident or design, it was this cover that stuck in my memory as I scrolled through hundreds of covers. With the contrast, deep green mixed against the black & white background, this stands out for me in it's thumbnail strength. In the world of online shopping, your book cover MUST work as a thumbnail just as well as it does full-size.

I liked the choice of fonts for this, the plain, serifed font contrasting nicely with the script-style of the title and author's name. In terms of composition, the placing of the text was fresh and contemporary, against what looks like a historically-themed cover.

This brings me around to the lower score on the genre-fit, and the overall concept, which I must admit I was a little torn about. I'd actually typed into the details that this was a Regency Romance, then went back to the blurb on Amazon to double-check. Nope, it's a modern-day retelling of Pride & Prejudice. So why the regency gown? Well, the story appears to begin at a charity ball, so that might account for it as well as the stately rooms beyond? Either way, there was not enough of a clue that this was a modern day romance, and the twist towards the story's Regency roots was a little too strong for me.

What I do love about this cover is the boldness of colour and contrast, the photograph and cropping choices, and the mood that's been captured. If a cover leaves me wondering what that woman on the cover is thinking just now...that's a good cover.

What do you think?

Thank you for reading, an be sure to join me soon for more random romance cover rompings!

Top background image Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos (with a few little amendments by moi)

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Kindle Romance Covers of the Week - 12th May 2013

Okay, here we go! I've done my wander through a week of written Romance, and pulled out what I think is the best and beautiful in Kindle Romance Covers. And yes, I took a week off, partly due to busyness but also due to there being a strange lull in good covers. I found a few reasonable ones, but not enough to write home about. Of course, this week I found more than you can shake a stick at, and I'm up to the brim with loverly-coverly goodness!

Before I get started, some words for anyone joining the party for the first time. I review covers of Kindle eBooks published in the past week on Amazon UK  categorised as 'Romance'. I have no affiliation with Amazon or Kindle, nor do they line my (empty) pockets in any way. It's just an easy way for me to gather a manageable number of covers and pick out my favourites!

And for my usual, secondary disclaimer: I have no idea if the writing IN these books is any good. I will read the blurbs to see how the cover art ties into the story/genre, but that's IT. Any judgement of writing quality is up to YOU, fair reader. I just look for prettiness!

Before I get to the runners-up, I have a few things to note:


That's right. Now that I've started to spot trends in repeated images used in cover art, I am obsessed with spotting Wore-The-Same-Dress-To-The-Ball incidences. Here's your dose of duplication for this week - and YES, they were both releases in the SAME WEEK.

To be entirely fair to authors, cover designers and publishers alike, how would you know that someone else is going to pick the exact, same image from a database and release those precise books in the same week? You don't. But it's an unfortunate mishap for these two authors. I will say, I much prefer the cover of 'Beyond a Doubt' by Felicia Rogers - the text on 'Lady Catherine Brandon's Leap Day Adventure' is almost entirely unreadable! 


Sorry. I heard that phrase for the first time this week and can't get it out of my head. The Urban Dictionary tells me it has something to do with muscly young men wanting to get their kit off and wear short sleeves the moment the temperature goes above 15C to show off their 'guns' (a.k.a. arms/biceps). But I'm talking about LADIES with guns. Real ones. Noticed a number of covers with strong women and their not-so-concealed-carrying.
And for the first of this week's runners up...


I'm usually really NOT into the clutchy-couples thing on romance covers, but this week showed up a little crop of rather decent ones! For me, if you going to show both protagonists on the cover, it's got to be more than just a way of indicating whether it's a Scottish historical (KILTS! SWORDS! BOSOMS!) or a vampire fantasy (NECKS! FANGS! BLOOD!). I want to see emotion in the interaction between the couple, not just pretty bodies.

Title: Forces of Nature
Author: Cheris Hodges
Publisher: Kensington Books
Cover Artist: n/a
Genre: Contemporary Romance

This upside-down-backwards-Spidey-kiss pose seems incredibly popular these days, don't you think? But this cover does work, and the fact that our couple are canoodling on the grass (something I always found more romantic in one's mind than in reality. Grass itch. Ants. Dog walkers. Say no more.), is a nice change. What pulled me to this cover was the palpable tenderness between the couple. I'm all about a cover expressing something, particularly emotion. The font and title are nicely spaced, contrast well, and don't interfere with the main image. The fact that the story revolves around a farm (nature), and they're rolling around in the grass (nature!), ties right into the title. The pose may seem relaxed, but you could stretch this a little and say that they are still at cross-purposes with each other, just a little, which adds a nice tension.

Title: Lost in You
Author: Heidi McLaughlin
Publisher: Mad Beak Publishing
Cover Artist: Sarah Hansen - Okay Creations
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Maybe it's thoughts of moving to Texas someday, but I have a fascination with the way a southern girl can put together a dainty dress and a pair of boots and it just looks darn-tootin' good. (I should stop talking like that. Okay. I will stop talking like that). Not sure I have the calves  for it, but I might try it someday. [FOCUS, BEATRICE.] Yes, so...the cover!

I've decided that I often prefer it when the models on covers have their heads cropped out of the image. Sounds brutal, I know ("OFF with their heads!!"), but while I want to get a FEEL for who the characters are from the cover, I want my imagination free to roam when I start reading. I don't want to be trapped into one impression of some actual, real people who are not actually the characters in the story, no matter how well their hair colour or chin-cleft matches their descriptions. So I'm a fan of this one - I can tell something instantly about our gal (well dressed, confident), and our guy is a little more down-to-earth, boy-next-door. That, and he has her a little bit backed into a corner, so to speak. The blurb backs this up, so I'm giving this one a thumbs up. Oh, and the colours are verrry pretty!

Title: Connected
Author: Kim Karr
Publisher: Penguin
Cover Artist: Unknown - re-released with Penguin
Genre: Contemporary Romance

I actually worry about how fascinated I get by design amendments and alterations. Befores and Afters. Version 1s and Version 2s. Here's a great example of what the most subtle changes can do for a cover. I picked Kim Karr's Connected out of the line-up this week, not knowing that there was a first version from her self-published (assuming - correct me if I'm wrong!) edition of the book (Version #1 below, in black & white). The version I spotted was Version #2, in colour.

Maybe it's my imagination, but just the colour change alone changes the mood entirely. From dark and brooding in greyscale, the colour version is much warmer, sexier and approachable. The photograph is identical in composition, but just the change in colouring and contrast and the new position of the title mean we can see that her arms are actually wrapped around his waist. This means he goes from looking slightly more overpowering in V#1 to her almost holding his hands behind his back in V#2. Hey presto, you have a complete change in relationship dynamic. We're very attuned to body language, and what you show vs what you reveal is incredibly important.

The colour version has a much clearer version of the title, but I love that they've kept the pink/grey mirroring of the word. Symbolism in a title and in the text is a big winner for me, and to have mirroring/ying-yang/feminine-masculine all tied into a word like 'Connected' is perfect. I'm voting for Version #2 (fingers crossed it's actually the current one!).
Version #1
Version #2


Okay, so my secret's out. I'm not generally a big fan or follower of pop music, but I've always thought Beyonce was pretty incredible. Though I did get in trouble thanks to her 'Single Ladies' song at a party once. Apparently the birthday girl was celebrating her recent split with her ex, and specifically wanted to celebrate with all the OTHER single ladies. I just liked the song, so got up and did my thing (in other words, I swayed to the music and shuffled my feet a bit. A dancer I am NOT). That was until I was firmly chastised by the birthday girl for dancing to a song about 'single ladies' when I was, in fact, a MARRIED WOMAN. Shock. Horror. \Tail between my legs, I scuttled back to my table. Won't be making THAT mistake again. But if I ever need cheering up, there's nothing like that video of the baby busting a move to Beyonce to do the trick!

Title: Breathe
Author: Ani San
Publisher: Amazon/Self-published
Cover Artist: Ani San
Genre: Contemporary Romance

What's not to like? Clean, clear design. The font style works beautifully with the wavy lines of her hair. It's all about contrast and leaving room for that all-important (and in this case, literal) 'white space'. Simple, and lovely.

Title: In My Own Shadow
Author: Susan A. Royal
Publisher: Museit Up Publishing
Cover Artist: Marion Sipe
Genre: Fantasy/Paranormal ROmance

In contrast, this cover has a whole lot going on, but then again, so does the plot. There's time-travel, a Book of Secrets, telepaths, and alternate universes. What grabbed me particularly is the girl, her face, and again...the emotion. Lost, but strong, you want to find out what she's about to go through. The actual echo/shadow on the word, Shadow, is very clever, and pulls the title together with the fact our protagonist has an alternate in this alternate dimension. Careful placement of the elements keeps this from being what could be a very busy cover.

Title: Cursed
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Cover Artist: n/a
Genre: Young (or New?) Adult/Fantasy/Romance

More lying down in grass! Okay, so maybe we all do a whole lot more of this since Bella and Edward went daisy-swimming and we met the sparkly people. But I do like this cover, and with the story appearing to be about/for a younger audience, I think it's fitting. I like the fact she's posed upside down, which gives us some idea that things have gotten rather topsy-turvy (do people even SAY that any more?!) in her world. Simple, but evocative.

Title: Pieces of You
Author: Cassia Leo
Publisher: Amazon/Self-published
Cover Artist: Sarah Hansen - Okay Creations
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Could it be? Am I a new-found fan of Sarah Hansen's cover designs? Have a lookey up at our cowgirl cover. That's right, Sarah is listed as the designer for Lost In You as well! Someone's been busy. This time we have only one of our characters on the cover but we've also got an expression and emotion that we have ALL felt at some point at some time. More lying-upon-the-ground (sensing a theme here), but it indicates to us a lowness - of mood, of spirit, you name it. Rock bottom emotions. The perception of depth in the image makes us want to get closer to her. The title, and presumably those things about him that are Pieces of You, appear to weigh on her and press her down. Gorgeous, soft colours.


Title: Reclaim My Heart
Author: Donna Fasano
Publisher: Hard Knocks Books
Cover Artist: Najla Qambar (Updated - thanks for Najla's info, Donna!)
Genre: Contemporary Romance

I love this cover more every time I look at it. It has contrast, dark and light, green and red. A perfect example of how on a very basic level you can make complementary colour schemes work for you (green in the background, red in the figures and the title). It gives the whole image a 'buzz' and unconventional harmony like nothing else.

I've actually seen these figures before, photoshopped differently, on another cover. But I much prefer this full-length version of them, and the additions that have been made to personalise the characters. The male character in this story belongs to the Delaware Tribe/Nation, something we may be asked to pick up on immediately from the tattoo on his arm.

Whatever stock image was used originally, the treatment of it here has imbued the couple with a vulnerability, a delicacy of emotion, a poignancy and a threat of darkness which is both beautiful and intriguing.

I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did. Let me know what your favourites were, or if you thought I missed the GEM of the week!

But before we go, would I let you get away without...


That's right. can't live without a little dose of manly perfection (KILTS! SWORDS! BOSOMS!). Okay, maybe man-bosoms in this case. 

See you next time!

Top background image Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos (with a few little amendments by moi)

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Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Sextuplets! Or, How to Avoid Embarrassing Book Cover Doppelgangers

Fingerprints. Snowflakes. DNA. That's how unique you want your book's cover image to be, right? Why would you want to copy anyone else? Why would you want your book mistaken for someone else's?

In the wonderful world of indie-press and self-pub, low-budget and home-made covers abound. Some are shockingly bad, but as I've discovered during my weekly Kindle Romance Cover reviews, I have to admit the quality is rapidly improving.

But quality aside, the way the indie-press/self-pub world goes about gleaning images from the internet at large appears to be creating a slightly bigger problem. Let me explain.

This had me wondering. If the exact same image could crop up on two books within a week, how many other times had the same image been used?

The answer (from what I could find, just digging through Google Images), was a little startling.


That's right. Here are six separate book covers, all published at some point using the EXACT, same image.

(Granted, at least one of these titles is now published using a different image - maybe they caught on?)


Okay, you think, So what? So what if other books have the same cover? But... what if that's not the only place your lovely book cover image has been used on the internet? Again, a simple Google search shows that the above image can be found illustrating:

And just in case we haven't caught onto the theme here, we have the image with 'Sex Addiction' plastered all over it. Nice.

So yeah.  Now your 'smexy romance' is associated with sex addiction articles. Not quite so smart, and not so sexy after all?


So, how to avoid the Wore The Same Dress to the Ball mistake?

There are no guarantees, mistakes can always creep in. With the proliferation of images on the internet there is no way to ensure that no one uses your cover image ever ever

But a few things to try, and will at least ensure your use of the image is unique:
  • Enlist a reputable cover artist who does original work and uses exclusive images
  • Ask for exclusive rights on the photograph used for your cover
  • Design your own, don't use stock images
  • Please, use that little Google image search, lovely people, and check before you use a picture. It might save you a little embarrassment. And perhaps a few copyright lawsuits!

UPDATE - 10th May 2013
One week on, and you guessed it. I found ANOTHER ONE...Seven and counting.

UPDATE - 17th June 2013
Just spotted yet another hapless author who's got which picture on their cover? You guessed it...

UPDATE - 18th June 2013
Did another image search just for kicks (when did this turn into my latest hobby?!) and found...a few more. ELEVEN and counting, folks! 

As well the image used in a few other places:

An album cover:

...and a 'Christian Sexuality' video:

Stay can bet there will be more!

UPDATE - 24 June 2013
That's right just never ends. SEVENTEEN books, people. -={ 17 }=-

(Okay, have listed this book already above, but it is a different design!)

And in other languages...

Are there NO more pictures in the ENTIRE WORLD?

But this might explain at least one of these covers. YOURS (and many others')...for only $25:


UPDATE - 24 June 2013
Now, this is technically a series, so not sure if it's fair to count these as three separate books, but by golly they ARE and I WILL. That's now TWENTY books, people. -={ 20 }=-

Tilting the image a bit to change the body language? Interesting...

Done a little photoshopping to change the heights, have we? So sneaky...

And even here they've changed it just a little to make her more level with him. SAME PICTURE, folks!
('Everything' except a unique cover photo, it seems...)

Keep your eyes peeled for more - you just know this won't stop here, don't you?

UPDATE - 22 January 2017 
Thought it was about time to (gently) scour the interwebs for any recent editions to my hall of shame.

Ah, here's one...(nice use of barbed wire)

Surely there aren't more...oh, I tell a lie...

Oops, and one more...

And another (oh, the irony..."first sight"..)

This one's making me a little blue...

And a foreign book...thank you Harper Collins, for this original image. 

By my count that's now -={ 26 }=- books with this cover. *sigh*